The Requirements

Much like the introductory MCE systems, there is a strict list of requirements that must be met before you can get your hands on any OCUR device, much less the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner. The fact that OCUR came to us hand carried by Dell is a blatant hint at the first requirement: OCUR is OEM only at this point. For content providers, making the jump from a set-top box to an open, hackable, torrent infested PC is a difficult one, so there's a certification process in place to once again give everyone involved that warm fuzzy feeling.

A select group of OEMs, Dell included, have access to the OCUR program and its specs. Follow the specs in their entirety and submit a form stating you have done so to CableLabs and your OEM system can be sold with an OCUR device, the first and only of which currently being ATI's TV Wonder DCT. We will talk about the OEM-only requirement of OCUR shortly, as well as plans to bring the devices to retail and what this means to DIY-ers, but for now know that OCUR is OEM-only. You have to buy a complete system with OCUR in order to get the functionality.

The OEM system has no vendor requirements; AMD or Intel processors may be used, and the only real hardware requirements are that the system must be Vista Premium logo compliant. Given the relatively lax nature of Vista Premium requirements, you can expect any OCUR system to offer significantly more than just the bare minimum as timeshifting HD content is quite resource intensive.

Earlier this year at CES AMD made public the fact that certain information will have to be populated in the system's BIOS for OCUR to work properly. This information is supplied to OEMs only and helps ensure that you can't simply move an OCUR device from the system you bought it with to another system of your choosing. If the information is not present in the BIOS, OCUR will not work and you will not get any CableCARD support.

On the software side the system requires a version of Windows Vista with Media Center, meaning Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate. There is also a video driver requirement: only WHQL certified video card drivers may be used.

Another obvious requirement is HDCP support at all levels for a digital signal. The video card must support it, the video driver must, the OS obviously already does, and if you're running a digital output to your monitor then your monitor must also support HDCP. Over VGA, the HDCP requirement doesn't apply, but over DVI/HDMI it does.

Finally, there's also a separate product key for OCUR devices. On the Vista certificate of authenticity for OCUR systems there are two product keys: the original Vista product key and one labeled "Digital Cable Support for Windows Vista". The second key registers the unit and system with CableLabs and phones home periodically much like Vista's activation. OEMs have the option of pre-loading the digital cable product key rather than making the end user input it during Vista media center setup.

With OCUR being OEM-only at this point, the overwhelming majority of these requirements will never have to cross the end user's mind. If you buy an OCUR system, it will work with OCCUR; otherwise, for now, you've got no other option for CableCARD support on the PC.

Index The Platform


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  • Terrbo40 - Friday, April 17, 2009 - link

    On the surface everyone say's, Why not just stay with the DVR from the cable company? Let's take a quick look at that first you have to get the DVR or Card from the Cable company in that way we are still beholden to them especially since BY LAW it's all Digital.

    Genrally a DVR will only take care of one room (some now will do two rooms) for a Cost of about $10.00 (depending on your provider)
    and if you wanted a second one it is approx. $20.00 more a month. So, for two box's you are up to $30.00 a month just for the set top box's and if you are like most people today you have more than two Monitors (TV'S) in your home. And if you out fitted each one with a DVR at a cost of $20.00 each what would that cost you a month?

    Now, Take the ATI TV Wonder Digital TV Tuner with one cable card
    and put it on the network in your home how many of your Monitor/Tv's would now have DVR capablities not to mention all, the channels that the one or two DVR's you orginally you had all off your network which not only would you be able to watch at home but some of you real tech savey people out there would even be watching from the road.

    So, I say why would I not want this tech in my home where in the long run ( short run as well ) it will save me a ton of money that I won't have to be paying to the cable company. Yes, There would be some set up cost in the begining but I figure that I would get that back with in the first year. well that's my two cent's worth thanks for taken the time. I'm sure if you look at it you will find more reasons if you wanted to to go with it as well.

  • verndewd - Friday, April 6, 2007 - link

    Bugs or not its a killer idea. They will work it out and everyone will want one.I want one. Reply
  • Araemo - Thursday, April 5, 2007 - link

    I just saw">this article go up at Ars Technica. AMD has announced that they have discovered a bug with a specific Scientific Atlanta cablecard is causing issues with their OCUR device. Maybe Anandtech's problems are rooted there? Reply
  • PAPutzback - Thursday, April 5, 2007 - link

    I just read a review the other day on the Niveus systems. These look a heck of a lot better than this system reviewed here and the channel changing was quick and flawless.">

    Perhaps Anandtech can get one of these systems for a review

  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, April 5, 2007 - link">Link Reply
  • phil2cool - Thursday, April 5, 2007 - link

    Any of you guys take the card out of the box and stick it in a PCIe slot?? Would be interesting to see what the system would do. Reply
  • TrueWisdom - Wednesday, April 4, 2007 - link

    I have to say, this review was excellently written, but it dashed all the dreams I had about running a media server. I had envisioned having one PC hooked up to my cable, recording QAM broadcasts, and then distributing them on the fly to any networked device in my house. (I was actually considering purchasing an Xbox 360 for just this purpose--well, that and Gears of War.) But this sounds absolutely ridiculous--any content I try to record or stream is locked down in every conceivable way. Why are they so goddamned concerned with what I do with my media? If it's broadcast OTA, and I paid for it, just let it go. Don't try and control it after it gets to my house, too.

    I was really excited about using Vista Ultimate's Media Center to stream video and whatnot; it really looked like a simple, attractive interface. Now it looks like it's back to Kubuntu and XBMC.

    Can Vista's Media Center stream downloaded material to an Xbox 360? For example, if I were to download episodes of a publicly available program (say Prison Break, for example) in HD, could I then stream it to the X360?
  • Tujan - Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - link

    I tend to agree with this. The problem with configuration of these type of components is you have separate proprietary parties controlling them. OTA broadcast,or Cable in the anolog areana,did not personify 'illegal distribution'. The VCR what it is and was,being nothing more than a recording.To the person making it.
    With DMCA,these parties become 'liable'in no ending concerns.Via closed off agreements pertaining to the systems volitility.Something RIAA,and MPAA continue to exploit- the reach of communicative systems,and thus their control in continuation of them,on their terms.
    I had looked into a Radio Shack catalog one time,and you could for example,take your analog signal,through the RCA connector,and have the whole homes systems receive the video.And sound.
    But with the digital stuff,the whole that makes up the parts,is something of a legal partition in consideration of whatever reach a device can be conductive too.Nevermind the usefullness of them.That would be in the terms and agreements.

    I had at first wanted to note that of the problems people are going to have since of course they are going to want to upgrade their processors.Here we are not in technical terms.But yet again going to what legal terms make up their composition. When the leverage is on the proprietary nature,rather than the usefulness of the technology.
    Dominoes in missing identity.
  • vailr - Wednesday, April 4, 2007 - link

    Why USB 2.0 instead of firewire?
    I believe firewire would have been a better choice for an HD TV tuner. Firewire 800 doesn't seem too common right now (firewire 400 being more common). Since Dell has total control of their PC design: why not include 2 firewire 800 ports. And use those instead of USB 2.0 ports for the external AMD TV tuner. Making for less bottleneck when using a USB mouse & keyboard. Not to mention external USB 2.0 hard drives, etc.
  • tagej - Wednesday, April 4, 2007 - link

    As usual Anand did a great job with this review.

    The more I read about this stuff, the more I realize the combination of the content industry and MS are shooting themselves in the foot with all the restrictions. This platform will never go anywhere if people have to jump through all sorts of hoops and end up having all sorts of issues and restrictions. They'll just get the HD DVR from their cable company and be done with it.

    The only reason to go with an HTPC over a regular cable-company HD DVR is to add flexibility -- and all the DRM restrictions have pretty much nixed the flexibility aspect already. For example, you can't burn something and take it over to a buddy's house for viewing. So how is this better than the regular DVR? It's a little shinier in terms of the interface, but otherwise is the same (except it doesn't work as well).

    Nope, this thing is dead in the water, MS will not own the living room anytime soon....

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